Your Opinion: Religious bigotry poses threat

Dear Editor:

The Capital Area Interfaith Alliance (CAIA) of Jefferson City, which consists of leaders in the local Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist religions, met for our August meeting. At that meeting we unanimously agreed to present a statement on the dangerous threat of creedism (religious bigotry) in our state and country. Due to the recent religiously motivated attacks on the Sikh Temple, the Joplin Mosque and the Family Research Council, we felt it a moral imperative that we speak out about those senseless acts of violence.

We maintain that whether it’s the right to pray or wear a turban in public schools, all Americans have an unalienable right to express their religious identity without fear of being physically or verbally accosted. George Washington, the father of our country, insisted that we go beyond religious tolerance because, in his words: “It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens”

We are a nation of Native Americans, European Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans; Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Pagans, Zoroastrians, Atheists, Deists and Agnostics, to mention only a few; all of which are a testament to the rich cultural diversity that makes the United States of America unique among nations in world history. We in the CAIA maintain that the loss of that diverse uniqueness would be one of the greatest tragedies in human history.

Thomas Jefferson once declared, “It makes no difference to me whether my neighbor believes in many gods, one god or no god; it neither breaks my legs nor picks my pocket.”

There is no one size fits all religious tradition in the USA. To suggest that there is is a very cancerous form of historic revisionism. We therefore maintain that religious bigotry, in all its sadistic forms, serves no one and is destructive of the values of the United States of America.

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